South West Coast Path 2016

Dad and I spent a week walking along the coast path from St Ives to Padstow. I’m not going to write a long story about this as it tends to get repetitive, so will confine myself to a few remarks and then leave it to the photos to tell the story…

We headed down to St Ives on bank holiday Monday, and I promptly wrenched my ankle walking along the station platform when we changed trains at St Erth. Ultimately, this led to me walking the whole week with my right ankle strapped up with a support bandage. It seemed to do the job.

We didn’t linger long in St Ives as we had a look around last year. So we fed and watered ourselves and got an early night ready for day 1.

Leaving St Ives #SWCP #sh

Striking lucky with the weather, the whole week was warm and for the most part blue skies, the tone being set as we left St Ives. Day 1 was largely about circumnavigating St Ives Bay, with much roadside, railway side and creek-side walking. Only towards the end of the day did it get more interesting with the walk through the Towans (or dunes) to Gwithian.

Crossing the River Hayle #SWCP #sh

Through the dunes #SWCP #sh

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Nearing Gwithian #SWCP #sh

It better be..#SWCP #sh

The accommodation at Pencarrow Farm turned out to be the best of the whole trip, despite the mile plus walk inland (and uphill) to get to it. As is often the case on these trips, farmhouse B&B trumps the variety of pubs, standard B&Bs and converted garages (yes, really) that we’ve stayed in. To the extent that the phrase “That’s not farmhouse”, a quote from one farmer’s wife on the 2011 trip, has made it into the lexicon of this project, being used now generally to denote anything that is substandard. Pencarrow Farm definitely WAS farmhouse.

With the joy of a good overnight in our hearts, tinged with the sadness that the rest of the trip’s accommodation was highly unlikely to reach the same standards, we set forth for day 2 – a largely cliff-top jaunt to Portreath.

Godrevy #SWCP #sh

#SWCP #sh

One of the highlights of the day, and trip, was watching the seals below us in a small rocky cove.

Seals #SWCP #sh

The Knavocks #SWCP #sh

Lunch spot at Porth-cadjack Cove #SWCP #sh

Today’s nasty descent-ascent #SWCP #sh

The Portreath Arms, obviously never had a chance to match the delights of the previous night’s farm, but it was clean and and at least on the coast path. We set off on the seemingly long walk to Perranporth…

#SWCP #sh

Another day on the coast path #SWCP #sh

Coast Path cairns #SWCP #sh

Approaching Wheal Coates #SWCP #sh

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St Agnes Head #SWCP #sh

Perranporth #SWCP #sh

Perranporth saw us with beachside accommodation, but a seemingly quiet stay then turned noisy at chucking-out time. We were glad to get on our way for day 4 – to Newquay, scene of numerous family holidays in the ’70s. Today could have been the shortest or longest day’s walk, depending totally on the point at which we cross the Gannel. We did ok, crossing at a low point and then walking upstream to the footpath into town.

Leaving Perranporth #SWCP #sh

Holywell #SWCP #sh

#SWCP #sh

Wading The Gannel #SWCP #sh

Fistral Beach #SWCP #sh

We rocked up at the Griffin Inn, and it looked a lot nicer than I feared when I made the booking. Unfortunately, the shower was only capable of pouring out water the temperature of molten lava. And no breakfast until 9am, which we managed to beat slightly due only to the threatening presence of a hungry wedding party standing around in reception. Breakfast itself was good, but I can’t understand why they insist on serving you cereal and juice, and the inevitable wait that involves. This was certainly not farmhouse!

Newquay disappeared behind us, and we weren’t sad to see the back of it. The town’s gone downhill a lot since I was a kid.

Goodbye Newquay

Coffee, another critical SWCP ritual about an hour and a half or 4 miles into the day’s walk, was taken on the beach at Watergate Bay.

Watergate Bay #SWCP #sh

#SWCP #sh

E-i-e-i-o #sh

Day 5 seemed like a bit of a slog, not helped by a mile of uphill to tonight’s accommodation – another “farm”. Well, actually it turned out to be a children’s play area and petting animals, with a campsite attached. The accommodation though was great – a big room, decent shower (much welcomed after Newquay) – it was only spoiled by two things. First the hobble to the pub where the chef proceeded to serve us a pair of cremations whilst insisting they were medium rare. This did mean this turned out to be the cheapest eat out of the trip though, after the money we got off the bill. Second, we had such high hopes for breakfast, but it was really disappointing – slow to come and of mediocre quality. A missed opportunity.

We sallied forth for the last day, and headed up onto the cliffs one more time.

Constantine Bay #SWCP #sh

Trevose Point #SWCP #sh

Trevone #SWCP #sh

What every walk should include #SWCP #sh

Padstow - the end of the walk #SWCP #sh

The delights of Padstow were sampled in the form of rock and ice cream, knowing there would be an opportunity next year for more. We hopped on the bus to Bodmin ready for a timely train home the next morning. Roscrea B&B in Bodmin was a quirky but friendly place, and we’ll consider staying there again next year if the logistics make it sensible.

2016-05-03 SWCP St Ives to Padstow

And so we creep up the north coast of Cornwall, the end of the walk now only 2 long or 3 short sections remaining…

5 thoughts on “South West Coast Path 2016

  1. You’re approaching my neck of the woods – the stretch from Tintagel to Hartland is what I view as home turf and it’s testing ground. Hope I catch your blog about it as it’s happening in the next year or two as it’ll be interesting to see what you make of the struggle (Bude – Hartland is often considered the toughest stretch of the SWCP, but Tintagel – Bude is no easy warm-up for it…). No mention of taking fish’n’chips at Padstow? Tsk tsk – it’s not going to benefit the financial career nor social status with the millionaires of Rock just over the water if you can’t name-drop familiarity with Rick Steins various fishy eateries in Padstein as the town is becoming known. You’ll have to start with a fish’n’chip supper next year. Bring cash, and plenty of it! Finally, to make your trip through the last bits of Cornwall safer and easier, never never never never ever put clotted cream on the scone first in Cornwall – that method is the way it’s done in Devon/rest of England and to copy it in Cornwall is tantamount to treason and liable to severe punishment – anything from raising of eyebrows, shrieks of disbelief, accusations of heresy and witchcraft, 48 hours in the village stocks, or mysterious disappearance from your bed never to be seen again. The only correct way is a smearing of jam first, then PILE on the cream – this not only proves to my fellow Cornishmen that you are a man of refinement and of sufficient good-taste to be allowed within 100 yards of their daughters, but also allows intake of the calories you’ll need to reach the Cornwall/Devon border. Bon chance, as they say in Padstein…

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    1. That’s all very well, but as a former Devon resident it would be impossible for me to dissemble in that manner – and especially so with the weight of evidence proving beyond doubt that the Cornish have it wrong on this. Ancient scrolls reveal the true origin of the cream tea to be Devon, and so cream first and jam second is the only way that can even be contemplated. If that leads to ducking stools and being burnt at the stake, that’s a chance I’ll have to take.

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  2. Ha! Good answer. Of course, Cornish scrolls would have been written first if we didn’t have our hands full of pasty. And the Romans didn’t have the energy to conquer Cornwall because they were putting the cream on first y’know. On a more modern note, have you used the Scarp 1 in UK snow? I’ve seen one of these and like the room, weight, and extra poles option to bear snow so I’m seriously considering purchase of one for extended winter use (Dartmoor), but I’ve always valued a snow skirt to stop the white stuff blowing inside. The owner of the Scarp I saw hadn’t used it in snow so couldn’t comment, though the reinforcing design and low fly suggest it’d be OK in that environment. Just wondering if you had an experienced opinion as an owner? BTW I admired the Luxe too, but preference for outer-first pitch, plus Luxe guying issues and stitching inconsistencies is why I didn’t get one. It’s a fine thing apart from experience telling me I’d personally find it a niggle. Seeing your frankness about other shelters it’ll be interesting to read how you get on – do say, as I’ve mentioned your page to two people I know who are considering Luxe’s as a buy!

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  3. Yes I’ve had them Scarp1 in UK snow and it’s the only shelter I’d use in those conditions. First time in the Lakes in 2013 when about a foot of snow fell overnight. No issues. Also used it on Dartmoor in snow last year. You will need the crossing poles though. The relatively small overall footprint of the shelter is also useful in those conditions as the space inside warms up quite well. There are pics on my wild-camp gallery (http://hillplodder.com/wildcamp-gallery) of every camp, including the snow camps.

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